Oral administration of lactoferrin increases hemoglobin and total serum iron in pregnant women

Biochem Cell Biol. 2006 Jun;84(3):377-80. doi: 10.1139/o06-040.


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) during pregnancy continues to be of world-wide concern. IDA is a risk factor for preterm delivery and subsequent low birth weight, and possibly for poor neonatal health. Iron supplementation in pregnancy is a widely recommended practice, yet intervention programs have met with many controversies. In our study, 300 women at different trimesters of pregnancy were enrolled in a trial of oral administration of ferrous sulfate (520 mg once a day) or 30% iron-saturated bovine lactoferrin (bLf) (100 mg twice a day). Pregnant women refusing treatment represented the control group. In this group hemoglobin and total serum iron values measured after 30 d without treatment decreased significantly, especially in women at 18-31 weeks of pregnancy. In contrast, after 30 d of oral administration of bLf, hemoglobin and total serum iron values increased and to a greater extent than those observed in women treated orally for 30 d with ferrous sulfate, independently of the trimester of pregnancy. Unlike ferrous sulfate, bLf did not result in any side effects. These findings lead us to hypothesize that lactoferrin could influence iron homeostasis directly or through other proteins involved in iron transport out of the intestinal cells into the blood.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood*
  • Lactoferrin / administration & dosage*
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy / blood*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron
  • Lactoferrin